Boeing flew the latest ecoDemonstrator—an Etihad Airways 787-10—from Seattle to Glasgow, Montana, on Monday in preparation for two and a half weeks of environmental testing before flying to its customer’s base in Abu Dhabi. The airplane—a new-build airplane assembled at Boeing’s Dreamliner plant in Charleston, South Carolina—earlier this month arrived at the company’s Seattle facilities, where engineers fitted it with instrumentation in preparation for what a Boeing spokeswoman characterized as a speedy and focused test regime.
The program involves four main areas of environmental analysis. Airframe noise tests in partnership with NASA employs about 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the aircraft and positioned on the ground. Efforts to mitigate landing gear noise involves a partnership with Safran Landing Systems. A flight during which pilots, air traffic controllers, and an airline’s operations center will simultaneously share digital information to optimize routing efficiency and enhance safety by reducing workload and radio frequency congestion. Finally, a new cabin sanitizing system incorporates an ultraviolet light wand to combat Covid-19 and other pathogens.
Boeing plans to conduct test flights using a blend of sustainable alternative fuel (SAF).
Program partner Etihad, which operates one of the world’s largest Dreamliner fleets, took delivery in January of the 787 “Greenliner,” painted in a special blue-green livery to highlight its commitment to environmental advances. Using SAF derived from salt-water tolerant plants, Etihad flew the airplane on regularly scheduled “eco-flights” from Abu Dhabi. As part of that effort, Etihad cut more than 40 minutes from a flight from Abu Dhabi to Dublin using more efficient routing and descent procedures, reducing its CO2 emissions by three tons compared with more typical routing.